Saturday night at Tasker Arena the Hobbs girls’ basketball team and Carlsbad met for the fourth time this season. In the previous games, the losing team had found a way to adjust and counter the winner, but that didn’t happen this time.
The Lady Eagles were able to break the trend with a 62-43 win over the Cavegirls to win the district tournament championship in front of their packed home crowd.
In the first eight minutes of play, Hobbs showed the Cavegirls that they were going to have to fight for a win. The Lady Eagles came out with a strong showing looking to put the Cavegirls on their heels, much like they did in Roswell. Hobbs played to its strength, an up tempo style where the ball was sent into the paint forcing the Carlsbad defense to collapse freeing up shooters on the perimeter. The half court offense worked for Hobbs as guards Amiah Smith, MacKenzye Gibson and Ashley Aragon were able to hit open shots from the three-point line.
Carlsbad struggled to get any flow going in the first quarter against Hobb’s three-guard full court press. The press forced the Cavegirl ball handlers of Bailee Molina and Carsyn Boswell to commit errant passes for turnovers. When Carlsbad was able to get into its half court they found it difficult to get open shots against the combination of the man-to-man and 3-2 zone Hobbs employed. The Cavegirls did take advantage when Hobbs made a mistake on the defensive end to get on the scoreboard. In the final seconds of the first with Hobbs leading 21-10, Boswell was able to go from one end of the court to the top of the three-point line and hit a running one-handed jump shot to cut the Lady Eagles lead to 21-13.
The second quarter saw the Lady Eagles guards attack the paint and either score on their own or dishing it out to a cutter on the baseline or a shooter at the corner for a three. As the Lady Eagles employed a drive and dish offense, it forced the Cavegirls to free the paint by stepping forward to block the driving lanes. This allowed Hobbs to use its interior passing to get passes into Ayanna Smith for easy layups and one on one opportunities. With Smith being able to score against Carlsbad center Kaliyah Montoya it forced Carlsbad to try and double Smith, who found Anthony behind the three-point line.
Carlsbad offense continued to struggle against the Hobbs pressure defense, resulting in only two baskets being scored in open play. Both were three pointers from Terryn Tiller who was able to spot up and score off passes from Molina. The rest of the Cavegirls points in the quarter came from the charity stripe where they went six for six, with Boswell scoring four and Dayshawn Moore getting two.
“Coach always tells us to always be more aggressive,” Ayanna Smith said of the team’s offensive approach in the first half. “Coming into this game I was thinking that I needed to be more aggressive and it will help the team more. And it did as they collapsed and it opened shots for the guards, and they were hitting them. It made everyone better.”
“We were able to get Boswell passing the ball,” Amiah Smith said on the team’s defensive approach. “And not let her be the one scorer. We were able to get tips and playing faster to turn the ball over.”
At the half Hobbs led Carlsbad 35-25.
“The first three quarters, we won all three quarters,” Hobbs coach Joe Carpenter said. “The third quarter probably was the biggest because it opened the game up to 20. That’s almost out of reach when playing against us.”
In the third quarter, the Lady Eagles were able to get the cushion they needed to make it more difficult for the Cavegirls to get a win from behind. The third quarter saw the game change in the final five minutes when the Lady Eagles applied a full court press and forced Carlsbad to commit multiple turnovers that resulted in a 20 point lead for Hobbs. Hobbs went from a three-guard press to a four and at times five player press that caught the Cavegirls off guard. The offense was well balanced with multiple players being able to contribute on the offensive end. Hobbs was able to score on the perimeter and in the paint with Carlsbad struggling to stop or slow down the offensive scheme of the Lady Eagles.
On defense, Hobbs employed its press and when Carlsbad was able to get past it, it found it difficult to get open looks. Carlsbad tried to move the ball around the perimeter, forcing Hobbs defenders to miss on a switching assignment and allow the Cavegirls to either get an open shot or a lane to the basket. On many occasions the Cavegirls saw Hobbs make the switch and keep Carlsbad on the perimeter. Carlsbad was able to score on the few mistakes made by the Hobbs defenders resulting in only six points at the quarter.
Going into the fourth quarter Hobbs led 51-31, and was in control of the match. The Lady Eagles came out in the fourth with a big lead, pushing their lead to a game-high 26 points with six minutes left in the game, and saw the second unit get quality minutes against Carlsbad. The second unit led by Elise Turrubiates continued to play well for Hobbs and never letting the intensity go down for the team.
With an uphill battle the Cavegirls tried to find a way to not only get back into the game. Carlsabad continued to look for a way to get into the paint and get open looks on the perimeter. The Cavegirls struggled against the Lady Eagles second unit and found themselves going to the free throw line to get points. Carlsbad scored 12 points in the quarter with only two not being made from the charity stripe.
“Our bench play has gotten solid,” Carpenter said of his second unit players. “It has gotten a lot better and I have a lot more confidence in our bench. Elise anchors our bench and there are three other kids that have improved their game since the beginning of the year. It helps tremendously going into state.”
“It feels really good,” Ayanna Smith said on winning the district tournament championship. “The torch was passed to the seniors this year and we handled business. And now its been passed to the next generation.”
“We feel good,” Amiah Smith added on the team going forward. “We found a way to play together and play hard for our fans. We just want to continue going out there and playing hard.”
“As long as I have Amiah, Ayanna, Wisdom, and Gibson, I’ll go to war with anyone any time any place and any where,” Carpenter chipped in. “It may not be good enough but it wont be because of a lack of effort, because those kids play hard.”